We live in a century that has the seen the steepest growth in all spheres of science and technology. It has become impossible to maintain a count of the number of scientific discoveries and the technological advancements that have been made in the past 2 decades. However, we are still far from being omniscient. There are many things yet to be discovered, and many things that have been discovered perplex the experts to the smallest cell of their brains.
Medical science is the most affected by this perplexity. There are innumerable rare disorders and diseases that doctors and scientists cannot make head or tail of. Diseases that make people do strange things, that make people think of strange things, that cause weird growths on bodies, that disfigure bodies; you get the picture. If I was writing an article on the rarest diseases on this planet, my article would never finish because there are JUST SO MANY. However, some of these rare diseases could actually scare the living daylight out of you. People affected by these disorders almost always have to live in isolation and face a lot of contempt in the society, even from family members. They inspire fear among people, only because of how the disease affects them mentally and physically.
So here I have compiled a list of 10 most terrifying diseases, some known and some unknown, that you are better off never having to witness in real life-
STONE MAN’S DISEASE
What if you had the superpower to turn anyone into a living statue? Sounds cool, right? Well, not if you are on the other side.
Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva (FOP) is an extremely rare genetic disorder, commonly known as “Stone man’s disease” because it does exactly that- turn a man into stone.
FOP is an abnormal bone condition where bones just don’t stop growing. Our bones generally start developing when we are still fetuses. The simplified version of this process is- cartilage appears, it hardens (ossifies) to form bone, and bone grows. But at a certain stage when we reach adulthood, there are no cartilage cells left to ossify. Hence bone growth stops.
In this disorder, the patient’s muscles and other connective tissues like tendons and ligaments also start to ossify. This results in the development of new bone mutations all over the skeleton. It is like a weird, disfigured second skeleton covering the normal one. Because of this FOP patients struggle to do anything remotely physical. They are practically living statues.
Another thing they suffer with, even when the syndrome is not very severe, is that the slightest injuries can accelerate the growth of these mutations. FOP patients generally end up with lots of weird lumps all over the body as a by-product of the abnormal bone growth. Scary, isn’t it?
If you have watched the movie “Paa”, then you know what I am talking about. Scientifically known as “Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome” or HGPS, Progeria is a rare genetic disorder that causes one to age super fast. This disease accelerates the body’s aging process so much that even as a 10-year-old the patient’s body looks and behaves like that of a 70-year-old. The symptoms of the disease start showing a few months after birth, and become prominent as the child grows.
Symptoms of Progeria include- an abnormally large head, protruding eyes, loose textured skin, alopecia (hair loss) of the entire body, a high-pitched voice, and trouble doing any form of physical activity. Progeria is a genetic disorder, but it is by no means hereditary. Parents who have a perfectly normal genetic composition can also give birth to kids with HGPS. Progeria is caused when a gene (having a specific protein called progerin) mutates. When body cells come in contact with this gene, the now abnormal protein breaks down and accelerates the aging process.
Kids affected by Progeria have a life expectancy of 13 years or less. The sad part is, because of their looks, they are often bullied or shunned by others, more out of fear than disgust or any other bias.
WALKING CORPSE SYNDROME
How will you react if someone came to you with a straight face and tell you they’re dead? I know, you will laugh, but after a certain point of time, his insistence on the fact that he’s dead will come across as spooky.
Cotard Delusion which is also called “Walking corpse syndrome” is a weird mental disease in which the patients are completely convinced that they either have missing body parts or that they are dead. The patients are generally found roaming around in cemeteries and graveyards because they think they belong with the dead. The patients also frequently indulge in self-harming activities.
Walking corpse syndrome is, in a way, a strange mixture of chronic depression and schizophrenia, and is often times treated by doctors that way to cure the patients of their delusion of being “a walking corpse”.
TREE MAN SYNDROME
Yes, it is a real thing and it is exactly what you are thinking it is. Tree-man Syndrome, scientifically known as “Epidermodysplasia Verruciformis” is a rare genetic skin disease that forms mutations all over the skin- mutations that look like the bark of a tree. Depending on the severity of the syndrome, these mutations could range from small insignificant clusters that do no harm and can be disguised, to mutations of immense proportion that hinder with the individual’s physical capabilities. To help you visualize its severity- imagine a person whose hands look like he has worn huge gloves made of the bark of a tree. That’s tree-man syndrome for you.
The terrifying fact about this syndrome is that the genes can be passed to offspring. Almost all the patients afflicted with the disease share common ancestors, which proves the fact. The symptoms and the mutations are made worse by skin exposure. The only way to get rid of these scary mutations is to remove them carefully like you would a foot-corn and keep the surrounding skin clean and properly sun-screened.
For anyone obsessing over too much body hair, this disorder is a terrible one.
Hypertrichosis is a wider-known and more prevalent disease than the rest. It is also called “werewolf syndrome” because it makes the afflicted resemble werewolves. No no, they do not develop huge canines or a snout. Werewolf syndrome is just a genetic disorder that causes abnormal hair growth all over the body, similar to that of a grizzly bear, or as the name suggests, a werewolf. And obviously, you will tend to freak out if someone looking like Yeti suddenly confronted you and tried to say “hello”. It is a genetic disease that can be passed on to offspring, so that’s something to be afraid of. There is no sure shot way to completely prevent the disease, but one can cure it by using conventional hair removal methods.
Scientifically known as “Necrotizing fasciitis”, this disease makes the affected parts look like the flesh there has been eaten or bitten off.
Flesh-eating disease is a fast-spreading bacterial infection that causes the tissue under the skin to start decaying, as a result of which the skin around the infected area becomes covered with red and purple bruise-like marks. It is caused by the group A Streptococcus bacteria, which enters through small wounds on the body. Necrotizing fasciitis spread really fast and can cause severe pain, drop in blood pressure, dehydration and intense gangrene. If not treated immediately, it can be fatal.
The disease is hard to diagnose immediately, but as soon as it is diagnosed, the patient should be put on medication. In severe cases, it may become necessary to use surgery to remove the affected tissues and prevent the infection from spreading. This should make you realize the importance of first-aid!
Getting blisters is such a chore, don’t you think? For some, this is a chore for their lifetime. Hailey-Hailey syndrome, medically known as “Familial Benign Chronic Pemphigus” is a genetic skin disorder that causes an unexpected growth of blisters all over the skin. Sometimes blisters form over skin that hasn’t healed properly from previously formed blisters, which can make the area infected.
Thankfully the disease can be treated, if not cured, by the use of some steroids that provide relief, and can even be gotten rid of by using laser treatment on the skin.
One of the scariest feelings in the world is when you are not able to control your own actions. Alien-hand syndrome is a condition in which the individuals are not able to control their limbs, and they move of their own accord. The patients are generally not even aware of what their hands or feet are doing unless they see the aforementioned hand/foot moving on its own. The cause for this disease is not very complicated; it is caused because of the abnormal behavior of the primary motor cortex that controls the limb. This behavior may be due to a number of causes such as brain injury or a defect acquired at birth. There is no cure to tame the rogue hand down, but one can keep it engaged in other activities so that it doesn’t cause any mischief.
This disease is truly something out of horror movies. Diprosopus is an extremely rare genetic disorder, which causes duplication of certain parts of the face. Imagine someone with 3 eyes, 2 noses, and 2 mouths on the same face. That is a vaguely accurate description of a Diprosopus affected person. The disorder is a result of the abnormal behavior of a protein SHH, which determines the size and placement of facial features.
The disorder is something similar to seeing a pair of conjoined twins- the only difference here is that Diprosopus affects only one individual, while conjoined twins are 2 separate individuals connected due to genetic mutations.
Infants affected by Diprosopus have a very short life expectancy; it is considered a miracle if they even last a month. As a general rule, the affected fetuses are stillborn, or the infants die within a few days of birth. The longest survival time known until now is that of 2 months.
Ever seen those tube-like water creatures that have circular mouths ringed with lots of small, sharp teeth? They’re called lamprey and they are tiny sea creatures, who just happen to look scary. Now imagine coming across a human who has fingers like that. Creepy, right?
Wrong. If someone tells you about such a disease, pay no heed, as it is only a hoax that surfaced on the Internet 11 years ago, courtesy Photoshop. But if such a disease existed, it would definitely be on the top of this list.
If you didn’t get the chills looking at this list, you really are a very brave person!